So Record Store Day is done for another year. Some might breathe a sigh of relief that the lanes are free of people with bulging record bags and a strange look in their eye. Some might be slightly worried about how they’re going to pay off that three digit credit card bill. Other might simply be asking ‘Why?’
Judging by the queue alone, Resident was the place to be this year. When they opened their doors at 7am the queue was possibly at its longest, stretching a few doors down to Oxfam. Some members of the line had been there since the early hours of Saturday morning, and one guy had been filming since 5am so he could make a time-lapse video of his wait. This, ladies and gentlemen, is dedication.
As expected, the customers leaving Resident were laden with big bags of lurid sleeves, eye-catching picture discs and free swag. Their faces showed a mixture of elation and relief. “Getting up at the crack of dawn to own this Django Django EP was totally worth it!” they seemed to say, “Now get out of the way so I can get my precious cargo home in one piece…”
The most popular records of the day were the David Bowie and Star Wars picture discs. These were displayed with almost maniacal glee, with one customer saying of his Star Wars 10”: “I know I already own the tracks, but I had to have it. Look how sexy it looks!” (It did look pretty fit.)
However, as usual, there were a lot of unhappy punters. Whenever a record sold out, one of the Resident staff had the unenviable job of going outside and telling the queue – to choruses of disappointed moans and sighs. We overheard one guy say, “Oh, they always say that about the popular ones. They always keep one or two behind the counter. I’ll get to the counter and it’ll miraculously be there.”
The largest collective wail came from that ardent bunch of completists, namely the White Stripes fans. With only a handful of copies, the chances of picking up that one were slim to start with. Many left the line after it was announced that it had sold out.
A mother and daughter duo told us of their dismay at the news that there were only a hundred copies of Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ left in the shop when there were 152 people in front of them. The Thin White Duke must have been smiling down, however, as both got a copy of the garish picture disc with the original 1970 German artwork.
Another punter expressed his delight at picking up the Trojan Boxset by fist-pumping the sky when he finally got to see what it contained. “Liquidator?!? That just made my day mate!” he exclaimed before scurrying away with his friends and their epic hauls.
But Resident wasn’t the only place participating in RSD on Saturday. Cult Hero, on North Street, had a couple of boxes of 7” and 12” records plus a few swanky boxsets, but their selection wasn’t great. We were expecting slightly more as they generally have a good selection of new releases and re-issues, but if they’d had any choice items they were gone by the time we got there just after 11.
After flicking through the boxes, it was time to head to Rarekind Records on Trafalgar Street. Rarekind was busy, but thankfully not full when we got there. Despite opening at 9, they still had a lot of stock. This might be because hip hop and beat heads know that the items on their wishlists are rarely in the ‘must have’ territory, so they can come down later when the shops are empty and take their time digging through the new releases. A much saner approach, perhaps.
Out of the three shops, Rarekind Records felt closer to the original ethos of RSD’s inaugural years. The vibe was chilled, the records mostly independent and people were digging for fun. There were some friendly rivalries between the customers, but these were settled with good humour. Meanwhile, Resident was a mounting ball of stress that looked set to explode give or take a run on Noel Gallagher picture discs.
Record Store Day has as many critics as it does supporters. Some think it has become an excuse for major labels to release re-issues and picture discs no one asked for; others still see it as a day to celebrate smaller labels and unknown artists by having a flick through the racks and buying whatever jumps out. But if it helps kickstart people’s interest in buying physical music from independent record stores, we’re happy to put up with the once-a-year inconvenience. The look on the faces of those who’d bagged their new favourite album made it seem worthwhile, despite the freak hail.
Words by Nick Roseblade
Photos by Mike Tudor
Read what the staff at Resident and Rarekind had to say about RSD 2016 here.